Returning home to Singapore after being away for a little over seven months, the first thing that greeted me was not the humidity that reminded me that I am back on this tropical island.
Rather, it was the sea of Asians as I landed in Changi Airport. Humidity only came seconds after the door of the airport opened. With that, I know I have come back home to fizzy hair and constant perspiration.
After being a minority (which I enjoyed very much) in South America, now I am back being the majority of the pack.
Everything seemed familiar and, for a lack of a better word, strange. It was something I had to get used to. I did not like it at all.
No-brainer in Singapore
Why? There was no longer the sense of adventure, manoeuvring around the airport was a no-brainer. I know where exactly I should be going and passing through immigration customs was a breeze.
Everything in Singapore is in English, my native language. Having seen Spanish everywhere for the past 7 months, my brain had this 10% that was still functioning in Spanish. It acted as though it was ready to receive and deliver all airport signs and simple words in Spanish.
During the drive back home, the scenery was exactly like how I played it in my mind all those times I was in South America. Those roads, Singapore Flyer and the iconic city skyline; there were little or no changes at all. Something inside me felt miserable. It felt like the past 7 months was a dream. A dream I lived and had to leave behind to return home to reality here in Singapore.
Home Sweet Home
There ain’t hugs of happiness that I am back, no how are you, no how was the flight and no how was the trip when I returned home. It felt like an ordinary day in the household – business as usual. My mobile phone automatically connected to the WiFi, my dad sat in front of the computer and my mum busied herself in the kitchen. The house was clean and in order, even my bedroom.
I am appreciative that my room had been kept clean while I was away. My parents changed my bedsheets right before I return home so I can have clean sheets to sleep on.
When I entered my room, I was astounded by the number of things I owned and how cluttered my room was. I had forgotten about my mess at home while I was away living out of a backpack. Having lived with so little for the 3 months on the road made me realise that I do not need many material things to get by in life. It disgusted me to the point that I had the impulse to get rid of everything!
I came a long way home, I was exhausted. I showered and went straight to bed exactly like how I would come home to these drills every night.
Lying on my bed felt extremely normal, the normality that was kind of scary. I imagined that I would have a feeling of coming back into the welcoming arms of my lover, but nope. No sense of contentment or happiness of “Ahhh, I miss you Bed”. It felt as though I left my bed that morning coming back to it that night.
Did I miss home all this while when I was away? Good question. To be more specific, I missed the food in Singapore. I thought I would gorge with contentment on local delights but once I touched down, those cravings vanished into the thin air.
First week of returning home
The first week was tough, extremely tough as I cried every single day! It was a challenge and I was also battling with the jet lag I refused to acknowledge.
I felt scared and lost. Then, I started to doubt if it was the mid-life crisis and if mine came early!
I was full of displeasure with everything around me. What happened to the deep appreciation and sense of pride I had developed for my birth country?
It was replaced with boredom, normality and empty souls rushing in the hustle and bustle of Singapore. All I see everywhere are brand advertisements and consumerism at its peak. I have changed and I am not able to buy into all these anymore. The old Pam does not exist anymore.
I missed everything in South America! From the warmth and welcoming people; to making travel plans for the upcoming days or weeks on the roads; to meeting new people, exploring new places and creating adventures.
Coming home to Singapore means I had to cope with the drastic change. In fact, adapting back to life here is harder than adapting to a different environment on the other side of the world. One of my best traits is being adaptable, however I was not adapting.
What happened? There could be something in me that was resisting the adaptation. My heart was not ready, not so much of not ready to put my South America adventure behind. It was not ready for the future.
It has been 8 weeks since I am back, I am coping better than before. Reflecting on the weeks, I came to realise that I was too hard on myself. I was giving myself internal stress because I played upon the unspoken external stress.
I was anxious to get my life back on track. Only when I learn how to let go and find peace, I became more settled and happier. In fact, I am happier than when I first returned home.
In one of my previous posts I talked about taking the big step out, there was a quote by Steve Jobs which left a deep imprint in my life.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.” – Steve Jobs
Looking back, I am able to see how some of those dots I created are connecting. Life has a mysterious way of unfolding. I am curious to see the enlightenment at the end of my life cycle when those dots connect altogether. By then, I know that everything will eventually make sense when I take my last breath.
From now till then, I am learning how not to try controlling life, trust my guts, be patient and live life. I am learning how to give myself time. Time to adapt, time to grow and allow things to fall into place.
Of the love I lost for the country, it may rekindle one day or maybe not. For now, I have come to terms that I do not need to love. I just need to be okay to be here and I am. Maybe time is all I need.